Objectives: De-institutionalisation and the expansion of community services have resulted in a reduction in the number of inpatient admissions in Ireland having fallen by 31% between 1986 and 2006. However, despite this, readmissions continue to account for over 70% of all admissions. The policy document A Vision for Change identified many shortcomings in the current model of provision of mental health services, making recommendations for the future development of community-based services with emphasis on outreach components such as homecare, crisis intervention and assertive outreach approaches. These recommendations are reviewed in relation to readmissions and the impact they may have on reducing the revolving door phenomenon.
Method: Three main intervention programmes essential to the delivery of an effective community-based service outlined and recommended by A Vision for Change, along with other pertinent factors, are discussed in relation to how they might reduce readmissions in Ireland. A series of Pearson correlations between Irish inpatient admissions rates and rates of outpatient attendances and provision of community mental health services are carried out and examined to explain possible relationships between increasing/decreasing admission rates and provision/attendances at community services. International literature is reviewed to determine the effectiveness of these intervention programmes in reducing admissions and readmissions and their relevance to the Irish situation is discussed.
Conclusions: Whilst A Vision for Change goes a long way towards advocating a more person-centred, recovery oriented and integrated model of service delivery, it is apparent from the consistently high proportion of readmissions in Ireland that there are still many shortcomings in service provision. The availability of specialised community-based programmes of care is as yet relatively uncommon in Ireland and uneven in geographical distribution. A considerable improvement in their provision, quantitatively and qualitatively, is required to impact on the revolving door phenomenon. In addition a re-configuration of existing catchment populations is required if they are to be successfully introduced and expanded.